Imágenes de páginas

him that they are those who have come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. It cannot be denied that these washed in the blood of the Lamb, were men, were conscious and happy beings. And it were easy to show, from the context, that this was a vision to set forth things that take place before the end of the world. Upon this Mr. B. has not remarked, and I will not dwell upon it.

Eccl. 3: 19–21. For that which befalleth the sons of' men befalleth the beasts, even one thing befalleth them, as one dieth, so dieth the other. Yea, they have all one breath, so that man hath no pre-eminence above the beast; for all is vanity. All go unto one place, all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of a man that goeth upward, or the spirit of a beast that goeth downward ? This passage Mr. B. labors to bring in support of his theory of the annihilation of the soul. He says, “words coulil hardly be selected which would declare more explicitly that there is no difference between man and beast.” Now if he means by this, that there is in no respect any difference between the destinies of men and beasts, I would ask him if the beasts experience also a universal salvation. But if this is spoken only of the mortal part of man, if in one respect man resembles the beast, and in another he possesses a capability of eternal glory, and if this in the passage above is affirmed only to set forth the vanity of man as mortal, what becomes of the inference which he has drawn? That the writer here distinguishes between the animal and the immortal part of man, is seen in that he assumes that the spirit of a man goeth upward, while, the spirit of the beast goeth downward. The matter then may be reduced to this dilemma. The writer was either speaking of the end of a man's mortal state only, not designing to intimate that he had no immortal part, or he was speaking of the whole nature and destiny of inan, and asserting that in no respect had man in his destiny a pre-eminence over the beasts. And Mr. B. may choose which he will have it.

Again, the doctrine of the soul's separate existence is taught in Eccl. 12. 7. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it. Here the very point in question is directly asserted. After the mortal part returns to its original dust, there is a spirit to return to God:-to return to him to be judged by him and appointed to happiness or woe, according to the deeds done in the body. Mr. B. answers by saying, what is here asserted is asserted of all men, and if it is asserted that any go to God, to be happy at death, it is asserted of all. True, but that phraze, “to be happy" is one of his own adding. They go to God for him to determine the sequel; we are left with the simple fact that they go to God. But Mr. B. says that the soul goes to the condition in which it was before it was created. And as that condition was nothingness, so must this be. And this, he tells us, this nothing gone to God, is what is meant by our life being “hid with Christ in God," spoken of by the apostle. The apostle would hardly thank him for putting such a meaning upon his words. But no interpretation can make the passage more plain or forcible than it is. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.

I need not detain the reader with a detail of that numerous class of passages which speak of giving up the ghost, of the spirit's leaving the body, or returning to it again. They all imply the existence of a spirit separate from the body. But as we have sufficient proofs more direct, to occupy all the space we have for this discussion, I shall not insist on them.

Again, the distinction is made between flesh and spirit, and the spirit is represented as that which needs to be saved in this,—1 Cor. 5: 5. To deliver such a one to satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Again, Acts. 23: 8. For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit, but the Pharisees confess both. Here we are told that the Pharisees believe in the existence of spirits, and in the verse above, Paul says, I am a Pharisee. That is, we are first told that Paul was a Pharisee, and then told what a Pharisee believes, which is equivalent to telling us that Paul believed what it is said the Pharisees do. Besides, here is proof that the word pneuma is used for spirit in the sense of departed spirit; for here it can mean nothing else. But Mr. B. asks, Why does Paul single out the article of the resurrection, if he agreed with the Pharisees in other parts of their creed. I answer: for the plain reason that the doctrine of the resurrection was the main doctrine of the system for the preaching of which he was then called to account.

Hebrews 12: 23. We have come unto—the spirits of just men made perfect. Mr. B. says this passage means, “We are come to the persons of the just perfected.” Well, but how come to the persons ? “They were come to the better things without which those persons were not perfected.” But this is a strange way of coming to persons. Paul never wrote such nonsense as this. But without any controversy about what is meant by coming unto the spirits, &c., none will question that heaven is here named as the home of the angels and of the church of the first born, and of the spirits (or persons it you choose it) of just men made perfect. There is then the same reason for believing that the spirits of just men are now in heaven, as there is for believing that the angels, or God the judge of all, is there.

Matt. 17: 1-3. And after six days, Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them; and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light, and behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias. Is it a question whether these persons were here in body or, spirit? Moses died and was buried in the land of Moab, whatever may be pretended concerning Elijah. And his body could not be there. Mr. Balfour's reply here, is threefold,—First, that if Moses and Elijah came from heaven, “it is certain their conversation did not turn on any thing they had seen, heard or enjoyed there.” But how does he know that? Has he a report of all they said ? And suppose it did not, does that prove that they did not come from heaven? Secondly, he says that if any went to heaven before Christ, why is he

called our forerunner? I answer, he might be our forerunner and not that of Elijah. And he is that of Elijah in that he opened the way into the holy of holies for all sinners by his blood, and so in the order of nature, though not in the order of time, went before. In the third place, he says it is expressly called a vision, and ought not to be interpreted literally. If he means by this that the persons seen were not the real persons of Moses and Elijalı, and the voice heard was not a real voice, he assumes what the word will not justify. The word here translated vision, means the thing seen, or the sight. The same word is used when it is said, When Moses saw it he wondered at the sight,—but that was the sight of a real object. Besides, Peter represents these things as real, and no mere phantasm. 2 Peter 1: 16—18. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father, honor and glory when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; and this voice which came from heaven we heard when we were with him in the holy mount. Was it not then in Peter's estimation a real scene, was not the cloud a real cloud, the voice a real voice, and the persons real persons, the real Moses and the real Elijah ? And does not this prove that the spirit of Moses had existence after his body was dead ?

Again, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16: 19. it is asserted that the rich man died, and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment. And Lazarus died and was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom. The conclusion is unavoidable that their souls were in another world. Do you say the whole representation is a parable ? What if it be, has it therefore not a meaning plain and intelligible ? And what truth does it inculcate if not that souls go into a state of happiness or misery after death ? As this parable will come under more particular consideration hereafter, I shall not now notice any of Mr. B.'s remarks upon it. Acts 1: 25. That he may take part of this ministry and apos

tleship from which Judas by transgression fell. To evade the force of this passage, Mr. Balfour chooses to give it a forced translation, as follows,_" Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all, show whether of these two thou hast chosen to take part of this ministry and apostleship from which Judas is by transgression fallen, that he [that is the apostle elect] may enter into his (that is Judas'] place.” But this translation is achieved by leaving out a word in the Greek, the word translated "own,” which shows that “he,” and “his” both have the same antecedent, that is Judas. If we may leave out words in the translation, and violate the rules of grammar, we can expunge any truth from the Bible. Mr. B. asks with an air of triumph, “ Did Luke or any one else know it to be a fact that Judas went to hell ?” I answer, Luke by inspiration records in this case the prayers of the apostles, who by inspiration of the Holy Ghost, said that Judas fell, that he might go to his own place. Can the authenticity of the matter be doubted? Mr. B.'s quibble about hell's being regarded by some as a state and not a place, may be answered by saying, that some also regard it as both a state and a place.

Phil. 1: 21. For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain; but if I live in the flesh this is the fruit of my labour, yet what I should choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Here the fact that the saints enter upon a state of enjoyment, immediately after death, is repeatedly implied. It is implied, in that to die is gain—in that he had a desire to departin that to depart was to be with Christ, and a being with him far better than any state of being or action here. But Mr. B. says, to be with another, does not imply being in a state of conscious existence with him. But pray how can a man be with another, when he has no being at all; when he has no more existence than he had before he was created ? The difficulty found in this being with Christ, being far better than life in this world, is met by Mr. B. by asserting that it was far better for Paul to go into a state of non-existence, than to live in the service of Christ. But are we called upon to digest such a preposterous

« AnteriorContinuar »